Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Snow business like yo business

Met a great painter at the grocery store,
snow was falling Christmas eve . . .

Okay, it was actually only noon on the 24th, and Dan Fogelberg was, happily, nowhere in sight.

But it was nice to bump into my favorite visual chronicler of Portland.

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is his nostalgic take on our fair city:
Nostalgic inasmuch as it represents Portland before the Ice Age.

Here's a little visual tour of the City of Frozes, as it's been looking these days:

Macaroni: Do I look like my Russian forebears?

Cheez: Well, you look like a Russian bear.

The compost bin froze shut.

But the prevailing leftist sentiments were still apparent.
Yes, there is a Prius under there, somewhere.

They use even less gas if you can't drive anywhere all week.

Perhaps the most Portland manifestation of the blizzard . . .

Free Box Freeze Out

Get your ice-cold used clothes here.

But now the snow is gone, and the weather has returned to normal.
Sog on!

Yoo Hoo, Jew!

Want to get the attention of a member of my tribe? Try the phrase 40% off.

But much as we love a discount, not just any discounted dreck will do.

So I was reminded as my delight at this sign turned to dismay at the merchandise in question.

Because, despite his Yid-esque name, Fred Meyer was not a Jew. Even nuttier—he was Rosicrucian.

Which perhaps explains why the Hanukkah stock at his store is as nutty as a pareve Tishpishti.

Snuggled beneath the 40% off sign are stocked Hanukkah stamps. Hanukkah stickers. Hanukkah salt and pepper shakers.

Not to mention "Chanukah Spreaders." Which you might think refers to any Ashkenazi set of thighs after eight nights of fried latkes slathered in sour cream.
Actually, it's a set of cheese knives.

Apparently meant to commemorate the blessed and burnished weapons with which the brave Maccabees fended off the armies of the evil Antiochus. Not to mention the occasional rogue wheel of cheddar.

What they do not have at the local Fred Meyer, alas, is Hanukkah candles. AKA, the one damn thing I actually need for Hanukkah.

And so the quest began.

My goytoy the Cheez checked at the Safeway downtown. Where they tried to sell him Yarzheit candles instead.

Apparently all you Jewish wax products look alike.

For those of us who can tell the candles that commemorate when Jews survived from the ones that commemorate when a Jew died, well, substituting Yarzheit candles just doesn't seem kosher.

New Seasons, the locally-owned grocery store filled with upscale enviro-hippie delights, has plenty of Etrogs in stock.

Which is great if you want to get your Sukkot shopping done early.

Sukkot being the Jewish holiday for which Etrogs are needed.

And there being only 282 shopping days until Sukkot.

Clear on the other side of the store, nestled among the seasonal displays, I did find some Hannukah candles.

They were mislabeled, alas.

Because they claim to be "Down to Earth."

But at $24 a pack, um, well, for that much, the Earth in question shouldn't just be a tribute to prime Middle Eastern oil. It should be drenched in a barrelful of it.

Listen up (non-Chosen) people: you are trying to sell to Jews. And while we don't drink the blood of Christian babies, and we're not all hook-nosed . . . well, the part about always looking for a bargain—that's not ugly stereotype.

That is genetic/cultural fact.

I still had a few leftover candles from last year's standard $1 box, so I knew I could make it through the first couple of days. And since my college roommate was coming to visit from Semitically-saturated San Francisco, I figured she could just bring me a box.

What I didn't figure was that said college roommate, being an Irish lapsed-Catholic originally from Boston, would have no idea what to look for in Hannukah candles. And yet would take the assignment incredibly seriously.

So while I had assumed she'd just pop into the Lucky's in her neighborhood, and scoop up the usual Manischewitz 144-pack for a couple shekels, unluckily enough she headed to some shmancy Judaica store in Berkeley.

Where she proceeded to buy one of each kind of Hannukah candles that they had.

Which means I now have five sets of hand-dipped, highly decorated Hanukkah candles.

So I am all set for Jewish observance.

And not just because I've got menorah supplies through the first of Tevet, 5774 (or, as those of you paying retail know it, the end of Hanukkah in 2013).

Also because my roommate has refused to let me repay her for the $50-plus so she blew on not-to-be-blown out high-end Hanukkah meltables.

Yeah, I'm feeling guilty. Which is very observantly Jewish of me.

After all, who needs Hanukkah gelt, when you can have Hanukkah guilt? Guilt being the true currency of my people.

actual Todah Raba gift from the Tru Value Hardware store

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Show Must Go On, Weather or Not There's an Audience

Ah, Macaroni and Cheez take an excited stroll in the Portland snow.

That was last Sunday. When Portland was still excited about the snow.

Now it's about as exciting as . . . the frozen bags of dog poop that are lined up in front of my neighbor's house (apparently he's finding it too cold to walk the 30 feet to his trash can to dispose of said bags).

If I log onto one more time only to see that same chipper little snow flurry graphic, I think I may have an inclemental breakdown.

Our friend John is one of those weather addict people. He watches the weather channel constantly, and at work he spends all his screwing around on the internet time scouring the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website for the latest meteorological tidbits.

Especially pathetic since he lives in west LA, where the weather is always sunny.

I just use I told him once.

Then you're only getting half the story!
he retorted with the indignation only the superior geek can muster.

Well, John, here's the other half of the story: Oregon's own Jane Lubchenko is going to be the new head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Talk about your superior geeks, apparently Obama is hiring scientists to run the science departments.

I'm sure Lubchenko will bring that special Oregon sensibility to the weather service. Which means we can kiss snow and John can kiss sun good-bye. It will be a steady national diet of gray and rain, yeee haw.

I guess one might as well obsess about the weather as anything else. Although normally, this is the time of year when I start obsessing about having to do my year's worth of receipt filing so I can get my tax information to the tax preparer. Which then starts me obsessing about whether I am saving enough money for retirement. Which gets me obsessing about how I should be investing my savings.

But not any more.

Because it turns out that I might as well be answering emails from Nigeria as investing with a respected former NASDAQ chair.

Well, at least I haven't spent my adult life making a huge fortune, only to discover it's been stolen by some goniff named Madoff.

What I have been spending my time making is art. Of late, a lovely multimedia performance art piece I'll be delivering tonight and tomorrow night at Performance Works Northwest.

There's music! There's jokes! There's my trademark crap photoshop mash-ups!

Now if only it would stop freaking snowing, so that there's an audience!

Whatever the weather, it's lovely to wake up and find yourself a Willamette Week Pick of the Week. So put on your skis and come see me in all my Jew-mocking-Christmas glory.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Flasking in the Glory

This town is our town.
This town, it's so glamorous.
I bet you'd live here if you could
and be one of us.

Alas, though Portland is littered with rocker chix, The Go-Gos are not among them.

We are, however, home to Nurse Band. I met them this Sunday.
Actual Nurse Band "Gig" Binder

We're in a band, one of the guitarists told me, and we all work together.

When I found out they were nurses, five neo-natal nurses from OHSU, all in a band together, I started asking serious questions.

Not about saving babies' lives. About what it takes to rock out.

Do you need to be an RN to join the band? Or would a licensed vocational nurse be okay?

Any nurse could join
they said.

What about a Physician's Assistant?

Long, awkward pause. Clearly the answer was no, they were just too nurse-nice to say so.

Nurse Band was playing at my piano recital.

Yes, I said it. My piano recital.

Although my heart belongs to the accordion, one is lucky to find an accordion teacher with a pulse, let alone an aptitude for teaching music. So last spring I gave up trying and switched to piano lessons.

My piano teacher also teachers guitar, bass, and voice - all the things a nurse needs to know to be a rock star. And this past Sunday, all of her students (except the ones who chickened out at the last minute) joined together for a holiday performance.

The holiday in question being the Feast of the Totally Freakin' Nervous.

Do we dress up? I asked Piano Teacher Jill at my final lesson before the recital.

Just wear something comfortable she assured me.

I opted for leopard overalls.

Which is very comfortable, if you happen to need to take down a gazelle and then fix the engine on your tractor.

I do not claim to have performed my song perfectly. But I did perform it without taking a single swig from my leopard flask.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Milk and Meat

Spring break of my senior year of college, my friend Alan and I went to San Francisco. We were auditioning the city for the role of Place We'll Move to After Graduation.

I don't know Alan said with some tribulation as we walked about the city streets It makes me uncomfortable to see all these men holding hands in public.

I reminded him you're gay.

Well yes
he conceded. But I'm Massachusetts gay.

You'd think my senior year was 1647, and the Massachusetts he meant was the Puritan-run colony governed by John Winthrop.
Still, it was all too much for Alan.

But not for me.

It is never too much for me.

Which is why last week I found myself loading the car with Crisco and heading to the city that, according to politician, activist, and stand up comic Tom Ammiano, is named for St. Francis of the Sissies, whose miracle was turning breakfast into brunch.

For the record, the Crisco was for our Thanksgiving pies.

Which were excellent.

Even if they weren't what everyone who was cruising for a piece on Castro Street was after.

Still, we had a gay old time during our sojourn in the City by the Bay Window.

We saw this man making a rather public show with his rather large organ.

It was at the Castro Theater, where Cheez, our friend Brenda, and I joined 1,404 intrepid souls for the Saturday afternoon showing of Milk.

Intrepid being code for homosexual.

I know there were 1,404 of them there, because I happened to notice the seating capacity sign for the theater, which is 1,407.

It was the gayest sight America has seen since Rock Hudson made pillow talk with Doris Day.

And by that I mean, there were lesbians there, too. I know because the minute the movie ended, the Sapphic Siskel and Ebert seated behind us began complaining This is totally inaccurate. There were a lot more women in the movement.

Cheer up, I wanted to tell them. This movie had one whole dyke in it. Which is more than you can usually say for American cinema. Though maybe not for George W. Bush's cabinet.

In case you were wondering, the movie, though a tear-jerker biopic/typical patriarchal erasure of lesbians from history, is very educational.

For one thing, I learned that Sean Penn can act.

Quite well.

I might have really taken him for a Jewish fag from Woodmere, Long Island.

Just for comparison, the night before, we had dinner at an Italian wine bar with our friend Craig.

Craig is also a Jew from Woodmere, Long Island. But about as straight as can be. Soooo not Milk he broke out the travel pack of LactAid as soon as the waiter set the fennel, bitter greens, and montasio panino on the table.

Immoral of the story: If there is one thing we can learn from Milk, it's that the battle against (lactose) intolerance is never over.